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Vegan Guide to San Francisco


San Francisco is my favorite city in the world, and living here has helped me become fully vegan (Eva too, as of last year!).

I thought I’d share a (non-comprehensive) list of places to try for fellow vegans visiting the city. It’s the result of my exploration of many places, good and great, which has been admittedly a lot of fun.

You won’t get to all of these, so I’ve marked my favorites. (Update: Here’s a map of these spots, created by reader Ivana.)

All-Vegan Spots

Restaurants with only vegan food:

  1. Millenium: An absolute favorite, and a must-try for any vegan new to San Francisco. It’s gourmet vegan food, imaginative combinations of flavors and textures. A bit dressier than most of the places on this list, it’s a date-night type joint. In addition to an amazing food menu, they have excellent wines and cocktails. [fave]
  2. Gracias Madre: My other favorite vegan place in the city (along with Millenium), it’s Eva’s top spot. It’s organic vegan Mexican, but different than any other Mexican food you’ve probably tried. Healthy, delicious, unique, everything is sustainably farmed (often on their own farm). Save some room for the dessert — I recommend the Mexican chocolate cake & toasted coconut ice cream (unless it’s the holiday season, in which case they’ll likely have the pumpkin spice cake — get that!). [fave]
  3. Herbivore: With three locations (Valencia, Divisadero, and Berkeley), this is a go-to spot for vegan families (there’s something on the menu for everyone), vegan brunch, and a quick and tasty bite. There are some good healthy options here (salads, green juice), and some tasty but less-healthy options (try the grilled seitan deluxe schwarma), and everything in between.
  4. Cha-Ya Japanese: If you’re craving some vegan Japanese, look no further. It’s inexpensive, cooked in the Zen tradition, and pretty tasty.
  5. Pepple’s Donuts: These guys are actually located in Oakland, but they have a stand at the Ferry Building (which is great for foodies and has a great farmer’s market on Tues, Thurs and Sat). Delicious with lots of great flavors. Also available in a bunch of grocery stores around the city.
  6. Loving Hut: With locations near Powell Station (in the Westfield food court), Chinatown and Sunset neighborhood, this is pretty yummy vegan fast food. You might know them already as they’re all over the world, and if you’ve been to a couple of them, you’ll know that they won’t knock your socks off, but they’re a great choice for a quick vegan lunch as you’re out sightseeing.

All-Vegetarian Spots

These restaurants serve no meat and are great places for vegans:

  1. Greens: Come here for dinner at sunset and enjoy the view of the water. Gourmet vegetarian — one of the first in the country, and owned by San Francisco Zen Center. Lots of vegan options, tell them you’re vegan and they’ll treat you right. So yummy. [fave]
  2. Rainbow Grocery: [fave]
  3. Source: An amazing variety of vegetarian food (almost all is vegan) — it’s like a new-Age diner, with Philly Cheese Moos (moos are their beef replacement, clucks are duck replacement, bow-wows are vegan hot dogs, etc.) and pizza and even vegan Twinkies. Go here ready to oink out.
  4. Thai Idea Vegetarian: Who doesn’t love Thai food? Now you can love it and not be worried about animal products. Pretty much everything on the menu is vegan, and it’s delicious. Nuff said.
  5. Udupi Palace: We went here and ordered way too much food, because it’s all so good. It’s South Indian food, all vegetarian (dairy in some dishes, so ask if you want vegan-only), spicy and yummy. Get the dosas.
  6. Ananda Fuara: This is a funky, cult-like place, but it’s downtown where there aren’t many vegan places, and actually the food is pretty decent. I really like the chocolate cake.
  7. Vegetarian Chinese: There are three places with vegetarian Chinese food if you’re in the mood for some General Tso veg chicken or crispy spring rolls — Golden Era Vegetarian Restaurant, Enjoy Vegetarian Restaurant (with three locations), Lucky Creation Vegetarian Restaurant. My kids love this stuff.
  8. Donna’s Tamales: Vegetarian and vegan tomales, found at the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market and various grocery stores (see their site for more info).


You’ll find a ton of places in San Francisco that are vegan friendly (almost every place but steakhouses), but here are some that I like:

  • Samovar Tea Lounge: Highly recommended for the artisan tea, you’ll be very happy with the vegan food options. My favorite is the Tempeh Maki Bowl, but also try the TLT sandwich or the lentil curry. Three locations, downtown, Hayes Valley and Mission/Castro. [fave]
  • Plant Cafe: Many veg options, I like the tempeh and the Wasabi Plant Burger. Mmmm. A great option if you’re in the Fisherman’s Wharf/Embarcadero area. [fave]
  • Underdog: Hiking around Golden Gate Park and feel like a veggie dog with organic sauerkraut? Of course! Go to Underdog, a tiny spot where they have beef but also veggie dogs and some other tasty vegan options.
  • Minako Organic Japanese: Small but good Japanese restaurant in the middle of the hip Mission District, with lots of vegan options. Just ask!
  • Papalote Mexican Grill: One of many taquerias in the Mission, this one probably has the most vegan options — soyrizo or tofu or grilled veggie burritos, for example.
  • Little Chihuahua: Get the fried plantain & black bean burrito. With three locations.
  • Paxti’s: Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, with some good vegan options. With a bunch of locations in the Bay Area.
  • Berretta: Go here if you like artisan cocktails — some of the best in the city. And if you’re hungry, there’s Neapolitan pizza with vegan cheese.
  • Mission Pie: Wonderful pies, down-to-earth cafe in the middle of the Mission. One vegan pie option every day.
  • Ike’s Place: Insanely popular sandwich spot, with some great vegetarian and vegan options (and omnivore). Takeout only, order ahead for pickup so you can skip some of the crazy lines.
  • Roam Artisan Burger: Super high-quality burger spot, including great house-made veggie burgers. Also get the sweet potato fries, milkshakes, and beer.

East Bay Vegan Spots

Some great places in Berkeley and Oakland (not a complete list):

  1. Cinnaholic: Insane vegan cinnamon rolls with great toppings! Must-try if you have a sweet tooth and are near Berkeley. My kids adore this place. [fave]
  2. Encuentro Cafe & Wine Bar: Great vegetarian/vegan food, and wine — need I say more? Great for a date night near the Jack London Square area of Oakland. [fave]
  3. Cafe Gratitude: I was sad when the SF location of Gratitude closed, but you can still hit them up in Berkeley. Hippy feel, half raw and half cooked vegan menu. Try the Gratitude Bowl, among others. [fave]
  4. Flacos: Tiny little vegan taco shop in Berkeley, my mouth waters thinking about their food.
  5. Timeless Coffee: Hip coffee shop in Oakland, all their coffee & great pastries are vegan!

A Vegan Sightseeing Tour of SF

OK, let’s put my faves together with my favorite spots in San Francisco into a 2-day highlights tour. Warning: It’s not necessarily the healthiest of tours, but you’ll burn it off exploring the city! Map out this stuff before you come to SF.

Day 1

  • Breakfast: Go to the East Bay and have vegan cinnamon rolls at Cinnaholic in Berkeley.
  • Twin Peaks: Then drive into SF up to Twin Peaks. Enjoy the amazing view. Don’t just go to the lookout, but actually go on top of at least one of the peaks (2 of the highest peaks in SF).
  • Walk the Mission & Castro: Drive down & park somewhere near 18th Street & Valencia, and start walking around. Valencia Street and Mission Street are great places to soak in the feel of the best neighborhood in SF. The colorful Castro neighborhood is nearby, which you can check out after lunch.
  • Lunch: Gracias Madre at 18th & Mission. Take your time, enjoy the menu. Get dessert to go for your next stop.
  • Hang out in Dolores Park: Walk down 18th Street to Dolores Park (18th & Dolores). If it’s a sunny day, enjoy some relaxation time in Dolores Park, one of the coolest parks in the city. On a sunny afternoon, the scene here is pretty interesting. The view from the corner near 20th & Church is awesome (right near my old house).
  • Dinner: Millenium, my favorite vegan spot in the city, not in the nicest of neighborhoods but you’ll get a feel for the Tenderloin here. Make sure to make reservations, preferably a week in advance (not always necessary but it’s better to be safe). Bring an empty stomach. Be sure to order dessert.
  • Nighttime strolling: If you still have energy, walk around the Embarcadero and enjoy the lights on the Bay Bridge.

Day 2

  • Breakfast: Go to the Ferry Building at Embarcadero, get a couple tasty donuts from Pepple’s, and enjoy with soy Gibraltar at Blue Bottle (it’s off the menu). Also explore the other interesting foodie places in the Ferry Building, and if you plan well, you can catch the farmer’s market outside (Tues, Thurs, and Sat).
  • Fun with science: Check out the Exploratorium for an hour.
  • Hike & views: If you’re adventurous, hike to the top of Telegraph Hill via the Greenwich Street stairs or the Filbert Street stairs (or go up one and down the other!). Otherwise, drive up and enjoy the view.
  • Lunch: Samovar Tea Lounge. Have the Nishi Sencha and the Tumeric Spice teas, and the Tempeh Maki Bowl. Slow down, be present, enjoy the relaxing atmosphere.
  • Golden Gate Park: Drive to somewhere near 9th & Irving, and walk into the lovely Golden Gate Park. Check out the Japanese Tea Garden (feel the serenity), and then stroll around Stow Lake. If you have kids, the California Academy of Sciences is a must.
  • Dinner: Greens Restaurant on the waterfront. Make reservations ahead of time. Alternatives: the Plant Cafe or Source.

If You Have More Time

Other good ideas: Encuentro in Oakland, Rainbow Grocery if you want to buy some food to cook yourself, the Golden Gate Bridge and trails along the coast in Presidio, Land’s End trails, a house-made veggie burger and sweet potato fries at Roam Artisan Burger, Flacos or Cafe Gratitude in Berkeley.


Zen Habits

Leo Babuata
Neither Averting Nor Craving in Each Moment
How Taking Care of My Finances Changed My Life
Tips for Traveling with Kids
My Grand Travel Experiment
The Parent I Aspire to Be
The Best & Less-than-Best Motivations for Learning
The Miracle of Suspending Mis-Belief
7 Strategies for Dealing with Toxic People
Finding Motivation on Important But Non-Urgent Tasks
Learning Tips for the Top 8 Learning Challenges
The 30-Day Learning Challenge
The Place Where You Are
Feeling Determined to Change
Practicing Non-Judgment
Hold Your Own Feet to the Fire
Don’t Waste Your Opportunity
How to Beat Procrastination with Daily Training
The Time When We’ll Be Present & Content
A Simple, Powerful Self-Compassion Method
When Others Frustrate You
Your Internet Habits Create Your Reality
The Case for Replacing Exercise with Play
Leave Yourself Wanting More
Fail Faster at Habits
The Anti-Bucket List
Getting Started with the Discipline Habit
The Case for Caring About Your Work
Questions of Priority
The Futility of Always Pushing Myself to Be More
Pare Down with the Declutter Habit
You’re Not Doing Life Wrong
Getting Lost in Just Doing
An Addict’s Guide to Overcoming the Distraction Habit
The Source of Contentment
Savor Discipline: Merge the Interests of Your Future & Present Selves
What You Can Say Instead of “I Don’t Feel Like It”
The Things That Get in the Way of Doing
The Girl Who Saw Through the Illusions
A Gradual Approach to Healthy Eating
Unconditional Acceptance of Yourself
My Typical Day: How I Get People to Think I’m Productive
The Contentment Habit
The Delightfully Short Guide to Reading More Books
In Praise of Limits
The Art of Being My Dad
5 Ideas to Create an Amazing 2015
Essential Zen Habits of 2014
Karate Chop
Practicing Slowness & Being Present
Overwhelmed by All the Changes You Want to Make
My 2014 Successes and Failures
Finding the Motivation to Change Your Entire Life
When You’re Lonely
The Brain’s Fast Mode
5 Questions to Simplify Your Life During the Holidays
The Zen Habits Holiday Gift Guide
The Four Hidden Habit Skills
The Power of Delay
Overwhelmed & Rushed? Do a Stress Assess
Writer as Coder: The Iterative Way to Write a Book
Please Support the Zen Habits Book
Are You a Lift or Drag Force?
When Resistance Smacks You in the Face
When Your Plate is Too Full
The Quickstart Guide to Quitting a Bad Habit
The Zen Habits Book is Almost Done
A Quick Guide to Gaining Confidence When You Socialize
The Empty Container
The Realization
A Guide to Changing Self-Destructive Behaviors
Pushing Past the Terrifying Dip in Motivation
It’s Not Too Late to Change Bad Habits
The Smart Way to Stick to Habits
My Most Effective Learning Tools
What I Do When I Fail
How to Put Your Writing in Public
The Productive Sprint
The Biggest Reasons You Haven’t Changed Your Habits
Seized by the Thunderhold of Fear
What to Eat for Fat Loss
The Heartbreaking Cruelty of Comparing Yourself to Others
A Brief Guide to Overcoming Instant Gratification
How to Get Motivated After a Vacation
7 Strategies for Facing Your Internet/TV Addiction
How to Breathe
7 Discipline-Mastering Practices
7 Rules That Keep My Life Simple
An Education in the Majestic Sierra Nevada
The Lies Your Mind Tells You to Prevent Life Changes
How to Believe in Yourself
Don’t Waste a Moment
How to Find Your Life Purpose: An Unconventional Approach
How to Be Great
Making Yourself Work
Inhabit the Moment
How to Master the Art of Living
The Delusional Fantasies We Live With Each Day
Living the Simple Life
How to Be Prepared for Anything
Turn Toward the Problem
The End of the Day Philosophy
The Painful Beauty of Impermanence
How to Change Other People
Pursuing Happiness When It’s Already Within You
The Quickstart Guide to a Decluttered Home
Parental Zen: How to Keep Your Cool as a Parent
Looking for Love
How to Stop Your Habit Changes From Getting Derailed
Why We Have Regret
The Essence of Fatherhood: 6 Simple Lessons
A Call for Revolt: Advertising is the Anti-Minimalism
The Frustratingly Slow Pace of Making Changes
My Struggles with Eating Boring Food
The No Procrastination Challenge
Creating a Lovely Morning
A Father’s Manifesto: Raising Young Men Who Respect Women
Turn Inspiration Into Action
Coming Back From a Setback
The Gift
A Guide for Young People: What to Do With Your Life
No Excuses: Minimalism with Kids
How to Make a Marriage Work
Love Notes
Flavorless: My Month of Food Boringness
The Letting Go Ebook, Free
The Miracle of the Self-Compassion Habit
How I Tackle a Big Writing Project
The Habit Action List
The Reality of This Moment
Confidence in Your Business
10 Ways to Do What You Don’t Want to Do
On Making It Through Tough Journeys
The Hard Stuff Often Matters Most
What to Think About During Exercise
You’ll Be OK
The Most Important Two Minutes of Your Life
A Call for Compassion for the Defenseless
The Cure for Your Distraction Syndrome
You’re Not Worse Than Other People
Being Mindful of Your Stress
What if You Didn’t Have to Worry About Yourself?
The Universe of a Single Task
Simplifying Is Painful
Becoming Emotionally Self-Reliant
How I Cleaned House & Simplified My Work Life
The Busy Person’s Guide to Reducing Stress
My Month Without a Smartphone
What I’ve Learned as a Writer
What the Exercise Habit Did For Me
Fear is the Root of Your Problems
This Moment
36 Lessons I’ve Learned About Habits
The 3 Do-What-You-Love Conundrums
How I Conduct My Business
Constant Task Switching
The Habits of Five Amazing Founders
The Incredible Importance of Sleep for Habits & Motivation
What Really Motivates Us to Stick to a Project?
I Tried to Quit & It’s Too Hard!
Unwired: A Month With Limited Internet, & Now No Cell Phone
Procrastination is a Mindfulness Problem
Letting Go of Judging People
Don’t Scratch the Itch
Become Happy in the Face of Physical Misery
How Repetition Can Kickstart a Habit
Zen Productivity
When You’re Feeling Self-Doubt & a Lack of Motivation
The Child That Holds Us Back
Stateless Mindset
My Month of (Almost) No Internet
12 Changes for 2014
Essential Zen Habits of 2013
The Fear of Being Alone
The Calm Approach
Things Every Man Should Own
Family Gatherings: The Ultimate Mindfulness Training Ground
Letter to an 18-year-old on the Career Path Less Traveled
A Method to Find Balance
16 Surprising Lessons from My First 50-Mile Ultramarathon
The Simple Fitness Habit Holiday Challenge
Struggles with My Morning Internet Fast
Surrender, Mindfulness & Entrepreneurship
How I Learned to Stop Procrastinating, & Love Letting Go
Finding Focus
When You Run Out of Ideas
The Necessary Art of Subtraction
Jealousy & Suffering
How Creativity Works, & How to Do It
Self-Discipline in 5 Sentences
Make It Your Job
Developing Selfless Compassion
Lyrical Learning, & Why We Learn Habits Wrong
A Month Without Sugar
Why I Read (+ a Dozen Book Recommendations)
12 Indispensable Mindful Living Tools
Burn Down the Farm
My Most Minimal Travel Setup Yet
The Exquisite Habits of the Founder of Blue Bottle Coffee
3 Little Tricks to Deal With People Who Offend You
My Healthiest Travel Routine Yet
Startup Founder Megan Casey’s Habits of Priorities
My Pursuit of the Art of Living
A Month Without TV or Video
The Way of No Debt
Letting Go: How to Live With the Loss of a Loved One
The Way to Be
Ramit Sethi’s Entrepreneurial Habits
The Time to Shut Down
The Pain & Beauty of Life Changes
8 Creativity Lessons from a Pixar Animator
Zen Mountain: Leave It All Behind
Overcoming the Social Costs of Being Different
Finding Quiet and Mindfulness Through Food
My Failed Month of ‘No Sitting’
The Thinking Habit That Changed My Life
Liking Healthy Foods is a Choice
Unschoolery: My New Blog on Unschooling
My Advice for Starting a Business
Creating Your Habit Environment
Travel Lessons with My Family
Easier Decision-Making: Conduct Experiments
Simplify: Let Go of Your Crutches
The Fear of Being Found a Fraud
The Flexible Mind
Declutter Your Life
A Month Without Coffee
The Healthful Vegan Diet
Living the Quiet Life
The Art of Tasting Chocolate Mindfully
Why Fear of Discomfort Might Be Ruining Your Life
The Habits of Happiness
How to Keep Habits Going During Travel
A Year of Living Without
The Key Habits of Organization
I Failed
Vegan Guide to San Francisco
The Futility of Comparing Yourself to Others
A Secret to Dad Greatness
Habits: A Simple Change in Mindset Changes Everything
The Worry That You’re Doing the Wrong Thing Right Now
6 Steps To Being More Creative
How I Finally Faced My Weight & Debt Problems
Working with the Obstacles in Your Path
9 Rules for a Simpler Day
The Little Book of Contentment
The Obstacle is the Path
5 Lessons in Contentment from Billionaires Warren Buffett & Charlie Munger
Smile in Each Moment
A Guide to Practical Compassion
6 Steps To Healing Yourself
The 7-Day Vegan Challenge
Why You Should Write Daily
Achieving Without Goals
Flowing with the Stresses of Kids (or anyone else)
Habit Mastery: Creating the New Normal
Defeat Distraction: Refocusing with Purpose
Expanding the Envelope: A Method for Beating Anger
A Guide to Practical Contentment
The Practice of Work Mind & Vacation Mind, Simultaneously
How to Eat Real Food Without Spending Hours in the Kitchen
Quitting Your Habits
The 38 Best Methods of Successful Exercisers
How To Make It Impossible To Fail
The Not Knowing Path of Being an Entrepreneur
How to Change Your Life: A User’s Guide
Getting Your Family On Board with Life Changes
How to Stick to a Habit When Life Falls Apart
Zen Mind in the Middle of Chaos & Stress
Create a Sacred Space in Your Heart
Meditation: The Most Fundamental Habit
Creating the Genuine Connections We Long For
Tremors of Psychitude: One Little Trick to Find Purpose and Motivation
Create the Habits of Being Lean, in 7 Years
Walled-in: Life Without Facebook
The 7 Habits of Calmness
The Four Habits that Form Habits
Advice to My Kids
My 10 Essential Email Habits
The Daily Checklist
Sticking to a Habit: The Definitive Guide
The Meditation Diet: How I Lost 60+ lbs. by Savoring
The Power of Habit Investments
Discomfort Zone: How to Master the Universe
The Most Successful Techniques for Rising Early
Do Less: A Short Guide
How to Savor Life
What We Lack in a Hyperconnected World
Simplify the Internet
12 Rules to Live By
The New Rules of Fitness for 2013
52 Changes for 2013
The Unprocrastination Month, and the Relaunch of the Sea Change Program
Essential Zen Habits of 2012
The Other Person is Never the Problem
The Do Plan, or Why We Know But Don’t Do
28 Brilliant Tips for Living Life
The Clutter-free Holiday Guide
The Little Trick to Make Any Moment Better
Tim Ferriss vs. Leo Babauta Showdown: On Whether Goals Suck
The Work You Love is Waiting For You
The 7-Step Method to Find Focus for Writing
The Buy-Nothing Holiday Survival Guide
Challenge: Buy Nothing Until 2013
How to Learn Anything
Shaken By Life’s Beauty, Shaken
Untrack: Letting Go of the Stress of Measuring
15 Great Excuses Not to Form the Fitness Habit
How to Make Health Insurance a Bad Bet
Why the Fitness Habit is More Important Than the Plan
The Willingness to Think Differently
Create a Superhealth Community
A Vegan Tour of NYC